It’s become an annual tradition of mine to head to the Upper Madison River for opening weekend. Opening weekend on the Madison occurs on the 3rd Saturday of May every year allowing access to certain sections that close for crucial spawning habitat during late winter. It can be an exciting and frustrating time up there, battling the crowd on Saturday is more entertaining to watch from the parking lot with a cool beer than standing in water with anxious anglers pounding every piece of good water. I tend to wait out the crowd and start fishing late in the day when the fish have had time to settle down.
The real fishing starts on Sunday and Monday when most of the excitement of the opening day has passed. Large sections of un-fished water lay ahead and big, hungry trout move in tight to the banks and start feeding on whatever happens to be around. I’ve always had good success with Stones, San Juan’s, and variety of smaller flashy nymphs depending on whats been hatching recently.
This year was no different than the last few, a large crowd on Saturday had me retreating for the cooler and lawn chair to sleep off the hangover from the night before. Once the parking lot cleared out it was time to head to my favorite holes and fish till dark. This year some big browns were found in shallow water eating small streamers (Buggers, Bow Rivers, Stoneflies). I’m not sure if it was the cool weather or the water clarity that kept the crowds small, but Sunday and Monday we basically had the river to ourselves. The standard flies were the ticket and much large fish were landed and released. It was another great opening weekend in the books.
If you’re considering heading up there don’t let the water clarity fool you. This river can fish great in the off color water you just have to keep fishing different types of water and change up flies till something works. Shouldn’t be too long before we start seeing Salmonflies and Goldenstones up here. Here at MFG were excited that summer is finally here so give us a call at 406.223.2488 to book your trip. Check out our great guide staff at https://www.montanaflyfishingguides.com/montana-fly-fishing-guides.htm